The 1947 Almonte Flood

The 1947 Almonte Flood

April 1947

The Thoburn Woollen Mills closed down at noon, Tuesday, owing to flood water from the river making it impossible to operate the boiler. It is not expected that the plant will be able to reopen for at least nine days. The level of the Mississippi River is higher than for many years but so far the Thoburn mill is the only industry to be affected by this factor. The enforced holiday will not be welcomed by the employees who will not be able to collect unemployment insurance unless they are idle for more than nine days.

It is said that high water has forced the Bates & Innes Co. of Carleton Place to close its fulling department. Many basements in Almonte are flooded owing to the melting snow. For a time, last week, big ice flows were sailing down the surface but they have ceased coming now which indicates that the upper lakes are clear. There were many other things carried along by the current such as logs, pieces of timber  and the carcasses of several pigs. The falls are now at the height of their grandeur and- many people took photographs of them on Sunday last. In the country the roads are submerged in many places with creeks overflowing their banks and flooding the surrounding country.

Flooded Water Street Apr.19 1947 No1
Flooded Water Street Apr.19 1947
Flooded Water Street Apr.19 1947 No3–

There is still a good deal of snow in the timbered areas and until this has melted and been carried away the rivers and lakes will remain at a high level. The river in Almonte is within a foot of the top of the wall bordering the town hall grounds. It is level with the cement dyke which protects that part of Mill Street between the Midland Woolen Mills and the Peterson Ice Cream Company’s plant. Wednesday’s snow-storm which resulted in over six inches on the level will make another contribution to the high water and the flood conditions.The Mississippi River at Almonte and the Clyde River at Lanark are higher now than at any time since 1928. The Thoburn Woollen Mill was forced to close in April 1928 and although the floor of the boiler room has since been raised it was flooded out this week. In Lanark both Woollen mills are closed. Part of Water Street was blocked off today as it was submerged.

April 24, 1947

Falling river levels over the weekend made it possible for the Thoburn Woollen Mills to resume work on Tuesday morning after an enforced holiday which commenced on the previous Monday. At one time it was feared that the plant would be unable to resume operation for ten days but when the flood started to recede it went more quickly than expected. 

Not since 1928 had the Thoburn concern been forced to close down because of high water. And since that time changes had been made in construction at the rear of the mill which made it less susceptible to the inroads of high water. This shows that the river level must have been considerably higher this spring than in 1928. Both the management and the employees were glad to get under way again. 

The enforced holiday was not enjoyed and the hands were unable to draw from the  unemployment insurance fund because the period of idleness was too short. This form of remuneration will only be paid after nine days and then covers only the tenth and successive working days—it isn’t retroactive. 

While many properties were flooded the Thoburn Mill was the only one which had to cease operations temporarily. Others suffered inconveniences. One of the most spectacular victims of the flood was the fairgrounds of the North Lanark Agricultural Society. This big tract of land was completely under water with the exception of that corner where the exhibition hall is located. 

On the river side of the track the river was flowing within six inches of the fence posts. A man who enjoys boating and fishing on the Mississippi ran his boat and outboard motor around the track sailing in and out of a gap in the fence along the river side of the ring. It was a strange sight to see him chug-chuging around a course on which horses and cattle are wont to travel at fair time. 

There was no truth in a rumour that got around town concerning the possible collapse of a dam at Carleton Place. It was said that this was causing worry Saturday night and if it happened it would flood the lower sections of the town. Inquiries in Carleton Place failed to substantiate the fearful tale.

Related reading

Ironworks– Mississippi Iron Works 1928 Flood and Sale

Ferry Cross the Mersey?– Irishtown Almonte

Perth Flood 1930s Tay River

  1. Memories of the Lanark Flood-Wendell Crosbie
  2. The Lanark Village Flood 1998
  3. The Floods of 1926

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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